Today’s health care system is characterized by multiple interfaces and patients’ interaction with several medical practitioners who have different levels of education and occupational training. During the patient stay in the hospital, he or she will interact with different healthcare employees including technicians, nurses, and physicians (Ulrich & Kear, 2014). To attend to the patient satisfactorily, effective communication and team collaboration are very critical for all the health care system employees. Lack of proper communication can put the safety of the patients at risk. This is because ineffective communication may result in misinterpretation or lack of crucial information. Additionally, improper communication within the healthcare system creates a high probability of medical errors. These errors can contribute to either severe injuries or unexpected patient's death (Ulrich & Kear, 2014). The majority of the stakeholders have ascribed these errors to poor communication in the health care system. In the following discussion, this paper aims to explain the importance of professional communication to ensure patient safety. The essay achieves this by using excerpts from various journal articles as references.
Patient safety involves measures applied by the healthcare organizations and individuals to protect healthcare recipients from any harm. The safety of the patients is not only confined to the physical protection, but it also comprises ensuring the cultural, emotional and psychological safety of the patients. The implementation of patient safety within an organization is an act that calls for the attribute of trustworthy. This helps healthcare organizations to reduce the occurrence of the adverse events and their impacts in case they occur. As discussed at the beginning of this paper patient safety is one of the critical issues facing the health care system today. Therefore, contemporary health care organizations demand health care professionals be endowed with high communication skills to manage tensions and complexities existing in these organizations effectively.
Communication in any given context does not only entail the provision of information, advice or instructions. According to Dunne (2005) as cited by Levett-Jones (2016) communication is a two-way process that involve all elements of communication to be shared either verbally or non-verbally and the message being sent be understood as intended. However, this is not the case in the majority of the health care organizations. Many of the health professionals perceive that effective communication involves providing patients with timely, clear and unambiguous information. Even through this is a good approach to communicating it does not meet the criteria of effective communication. To avoid this premature closure, communication should comprise the elements of both listening and talking (Levett-Jones, 2016). For example, when health professionals listen to their patients they are unlikely to rush to the erroneous conclusions before obtaining all information from the patient.
Good communication between the medical practitioners and patients should be appropriate, timely, accurate and inclusive (Levett-Jones, 2016). Many health care stakeholders attribute quality health care to appropriate communication. This argument is well exhibited in the survey conducted by New South Wales Health in 2009 among the Australian patients and their families to determine their preferences while undergoing through the health care system. From the analysis of the survey, New South Wales Health inferred the importance of communication was very fundamental for the patients to express their concerns (Levett-Jones, 2016). For example, patients surveyed argued that they preferred health care professionals to act at their best to help them in managing pains. Patients were also concerned on how medical results are explained, and they suggested that they should be communicated understandably.
Effective communication is also crucial in impacting patients' outcomes in several ways. According to Harms (2007) as explained by Levett-Jones (2013) effective communication and conformance to medication programs enhances pain management and helps in reducing stress and anxiety. Similarly, Goleman (2006) noted that effective communication improves patients’ psychological status, functional status, self-esteem, mood, and self-management. Mickan & Rodger (2005) noted that effective communication results in reduced costs, enhanced health care coordination, reduced time of hospitalization and symptoms resolution. Again, Mickan & Rodger observed that appropriate communication improves the wellbeing of the patients and enhance patient satisfaction. Other scholars such as Vats and Abbott found that good communication reduces deaths resulting from surgical operations as well as post-operation complications. On the other hand, poor communication contributes to patients harm, increased risk of error, non-compliance, lack of trust, misunderstanding, confusion, anger and hostility (Levett-Jones, 2016).
The contemporary health care organizations poor communication can be addressed using patient-centered care. This recognition of this aspect is greatly changing patient-safe communication among the health professionals and healthcare organizations. Patient-centered care approach views patients as integral part of the healthcare staff (Levett-Jones, 2013). This approach has been highly embraced by the patients and their families. Patient-centered care entails observing critical aspects such as transparency, choice, respect, autonomy, dignity, empathy and an urge to assist other achieve the life they want. In fact, it is a holistic approach that emphasizes on embracing patients' illness, knowledge, and skills on their status and their experience (Levett-Jones, 2013). The modern health care organization are largely appreciating effective communication through involving patients in the communication and letting them express their feelings and experiences.
Documentation care is another technique used to improve communication in the health care system. This is a document that describes all pertinent interactions between the health professionals and the client. It gives information about the care and services to the patient (Hall, 2016). Apart from documentation care, management information systems are also used to manage the patients’ data. These two systems support confidential, secure, accurate and timely patient-specific information. These are the two systems which are widely being used by the nurses and midwives to document patients' information.
Effective communication, patient-centered care, documentation care and management information systems would futile in the improvement of the healthcare systems without observance of the nursing ethics (Australian Nursing Midwifery Council, 2015). Studies indicate that ethics are very influential in ensuring quality nursing care for all people irrespective of their cultural diversity. When supplemented with effective communication, nursing ethics guides nurses in recognizing the rights of all people and makes them aware that they have a moral duty to protect patients’ dignity. This is achieved through recognizing and respecting critical human aspects such social, political, economic, cultural and civil rights.
Australian Nursing Midwifery Council. (2015). Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia. Dickson ACT: Australian Nursing Midwifery Council.
Hall, H. R. (2016). Fundamentals of Nursing and Midwifery. Retrieved from Wolters Kluwer Health: https://www.ebrary.com
Levett-Jones, T. (2013). Critical Conversations for Patient Safety. Australia: Pearson Australia. Retrieved from https://www.ebrary.com
Levett-Jones, T. (2016). Critical Conversations for Patient Safety. Australia: Pearson Australia. Retrieved from https://www.ebrary.com
Ulrich, B., & Kear, T. (2014). Patient Safety and Patient Safety Culture: Foundations of Excellent Health Care Delivery. Nephrology Nursing Journal, 41(5), 447-455.
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